Thursday, August 30, 2007

Friday Yarn PrOn

The "fried" in "Friday" is so completely appropriate that I can't help but be amused despite the dose of chaos life threw my way over the past week. My brain is fried, my immune system is fried, my creative juices are fried.

So, in order to get away from it all for a bit, I stopped by a LYS the other day and treated myself. Of course, I didn't mean to treat myself. I went to get yarn for a toddler sweater for my niece, Caroline. Buying yarn is not bad if it is a present. Says the man behind the curtain.

And then, when I got there, they were putting out all this lovely new Koigu...and this one colorway was so beautiful that I couldn't resist its siren song:

I have never before seen a Koigu so blue. Blue in a good way. I really did not want to purchase more sock yarn since I seem to be building up a bit o' sock yarn stash. However, new-blue Koigu started talking to me and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Stop it, you temptress. I shan't give in to your seductive powers. I don't care that you are the color of the ocean in Bermuda in the springtime when the breeze is blowing and I am sticky with sand and sweat and saltwater.
Blue Koigu: I am so preeeeeeeetty. Look at meeeeeeee.
Me: Shut up.
Blue Koigu: I shan't! I am the sea personified. I should be gracing a Nereid. Where is my trident?
Me: I can't heeeeeear you.
Blue Koigu:
I am so bluuuuuuuue. With flecks of teal and turquoise. I am vibrant! And wouldn't I make some lover-ly Pomatomatoes? Hippopomatomuses? What are they called again?
Me: (hanging my head in defeat) Damn you.

Not two seconds later, I spy yet another beautiful Koigu. I am no longer in denial. I admit, I am a shameless yarn hussy:

My conversation with this one ran pretty much like the one above. Except this one kept telling me that it was a field of raspberries come alive. Or maybe a wine-steeped frolic through the woods with Greek goddesses. I yelled at it and then put it in my bag. I thought long and hard about what I plan to make with these and I think I've earmarked the Uptown Boot Socks in Favorite Socks.

And, oh yeah...the yarn for little Caroline's sweater:

I didn't mean for the photo to come out oh-so-mysteriously, but the yarn was shy in bright light. Caroline (or Caro, as she is known in our family) is obsessed with Dora the Explorer. What four-year-old isn't? At least it's better than Barney. I am told that if I knit her a sweater with Dora on the front, she will never ever take it off. Until I can figure out how to chart my own intarsia pattern without it looking completely homely, I settled for making her the Child's Placket Neck Pullover in a muted lilac that resembles the color of Backpack.

Now, I keep going over Rowan 42 over and over and over again and...I'm really crumbling over this one:
Rannoch slays me. This dress is really making me go all Wuthering Heights. Only I want to make it in a deep purple. If I purchase all the yarn from Webs, it's still well over a hundred buckaroos with the discount. my defense, I don't really buy clothing that often. And it would be like walking into Bloomie's and making one big fall purchase, no? I keep hearing her calling to me, her voice echoing over the windy moors...

In actual productive knitting news, I hope to have two (count 'em, two!) FOs to display next week. I've got half a sleeve on CPH to finish and half a sock to knit for the Charades. I say I need to finish these up before making any sudden decisions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

CPH...she grows...

CPH is in da hood.

You can't see it in this photo, but she has delightful red flecks occurring throughout and this realllly tempts me to buy some red apple-shaped buttons for her front. The body has now been blocked twice: Once in pieces before seaming shoulders and knitting on the hood, and again after the hood and button bands were finished. Why? Because I was getting paranoid that the durn sweater was too skinny. I did not want a skinny sweater, I wanted one that was a little breezier. She needed a bit of fattening up. But now I'm worried I may have blocked a bit aggressively. Oh well, I'm halfway through one sleeve now and I'll worry about all of this once it's finished. If she needs a diet, I'll re-block yet again.

Speaking of "re" anything, I finished this one Anemoi mitten at the end of last winter and then it suddenly stopped being cold. Now I don't know if I want to make the second of this pair or just start anew with different colors. For some reason, I wasn't sold on the blue and white combo. Maybe a darker blue? Although the Harrisville wool was boo-tee-full...not super-soft, but I really like the look of it and my hands are not so lovely that they need to be encased only in cashmere.

Also, I rediscovered this fabulous enamel pendant while cleaning out drawers over the weekend:

I'm so in love with this and can't remember how I forgot about it. I like the poppy motif so much that I'd like to try and wrangle it into some intarsia-something or other. I've done fair isle, but no intarsia yet. I'm not scared to try, but I often don't like intarsia patterns so I steer away from them. This might set me over the edge...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Knit Pr0n

Look what I knit! Um...NOT.

Do you know how hard it is to photograph your whole leg in one frame? I do now. I bought these crazy over-the-knee socks at Nine West the other day for $1.99. Score! For reals, yo. The "cable" is actually just a knit and purl pattern. Can't imagine where/when I'll wear them, but they are pretty, red and I only spent two dollars.

These were not two dollars, unfortunately:

Some plum and apple green Shibui sock yarn! Not for socks, though. To make these:

The pattern is "Transition Gloves" from Shibui Knits. The plum will be on the hand end and the green on the elbow end.

Also, I kind of fell in love with a simple scarf pattern in Rowan 42. If you click here, look at the photo for "Fyne" and it's the scarf the model is sporting. I already have two skeins of Rowan Tapestry in the stash, so I bought a skein of Madil Kid Seta and a skein of a separate color of Tapestry. I am stupid and should have checked the pattern book again, because I need TWO balls of the mohair. Grrr. Must return to store.

The following is not knit-related, but hysterical. My friend and I were walking by a street vendor selling a small selection of books. For whatever reason, many of those books were in the woman's studies field. I took one look at this and had to buy it.

The back cover reads, "On the eve of World War I, three American male explorers stumble onto an all-female society somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth. Unable to believe their eyes, they promptly set out to find some men, convinced that, since "this is a civilized country...there must be men." Please excuse me while I go laugh uncontrollably for ten minutes.

Also, technically isn't the novel un-lost now? Shouldn't they call it "A Found Feminist Utopian Novel"? Hmm, one to ponder.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Weather Defense

Today's post is brought to you by the letter V (as in vitamin) and the number two (as in bottles of Vitamin Water consumed today).

This craptastic photo basically sums up the entirety of my life over the past four days. Ew. Apparently, this Hurricane Dean or some such weather phenomenon has been dumping the Northeast coast with a heavy, solid dose of grey. It feels like I am in the middle of the frickin' Mists of Avalon. Only without the cool medieval costumes and magical powers. Yesterday was, according to many old farmer's almanacs, the coldest day in August in maybe 90 years. It's interesting to feel literally "under the weather."

Unfortunately, whether the symptoms are psychosomatic or actually connected to science, my body does not hold up well to alarmingly sudden shifts in the weather. If one day's high temp is 60 and the next is 90, my body decides to short circuit. If one day is 90 and the next is 60, my body decides that Ice Age is not a charming animated movie but the state of my skin.

So last night, my friend hosted a small dinner party with some quiche and a good strong doctor-recommended dose of Gene Kelly:

This movie makes me so happy that I could just curl up with glee. If Gene can brighten my day by tap dancing with such joy through milky water with a temperature over 100 degrees, then I can overcome this durn cold to knit, goddammit...

These are the fronts and back of Central Park, post-blocking. They've been seamed at the shoulders and the hood is in motion. Due to aforementioned greyness of the local atmosphere, there is no achieving any sort of pretty photography with my sadly out-of-date camera. So I fudged it in honor of Gene. Black & white hides so many multitudes of sins, no? I think this is why all those film stars of old seemed to have such porcelain skin.

Also, I bought some yarn. I actually bought more than this, but this is what I will talk about today. I went to String the other day when it was pouring out and I just wanted to take refuge in some yarn. They're not going to be carrying Karabella Aurora anymore and so all this soft, petting-friendly yarn was half off. There was plenty of Aurora Bulky and Aurora 4 left, but the aran weight was only available in Melange. Which was fine with me, because this turquoise, green and brown blend was beyond gorgeous.

I decided to purchase twelve skeins and the lovely owner, Linda, asked if there were any more left of the colorway. I said there were two more left in the basket and she threw them in for free! So, basically, I got fourteen skeins of this deliciosity for about $3.80ish each. I heart String. Seriously.

I started a swatch...That's not technically starting another project. It's preparation. Yup. Not cheating. The left of the purl row is on US 7s and the right is on US 6s. The 6s give me gauge for the Hourglass Pullover from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, but I'm going to have to wash my swatch because I've heard that Aurora grows like a Chia Pet when it hits water. With the extra yarn I got (for free!) I think I might try to fiddle around with putting a big cowl neck on Hourglass.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

So You Think You Can Knit, aka SYTYCK

Yeah, there's been a lot of reality show watching en la casa de Sway. I am not one for those shows that only want to feature a lot of conflict between foul-mouthed crazies, but the contest-inspired ones get to me. I avoided So You Think You Can Dance for a while, but I caught it by chance when it narrowed down to the top 14 or so and immediately became addicted. While Sabra's cute and wonderful and all and Danny is all hot and graceful, my personal favorite was Pasha. I lurve him. He is so durn cute and so durn Russian. I defy you to watch this and not be a teensy bit in lurve with him:

On my end, I can dance decently (high school musicals and all), but I'm thinking I'll stick to knitting. More repeats of the Smoke Shawl:

I cannot wax poetic enough about these colors. This is in direct sunlight and a bit brighter than reality, but the violets, dusky blues, rich browns and greys are just scrumptious.

Here are a few Clapotis dropped stitches:

And finally, I can't keep my promises to myself:

I cast on for the Central Park Hoodie. There's a group on Ravelry called "Pens and Needles" for knitters who are writers. Or writers who are knitters. We just started a two-week run of making ourselves write three pages per day and finish a project within that time frame. This was the project I chose, so does it really count that I broke my promise to myself in order to keep another promise to myself? Huh? Wow, I would be a terrible lawyer.

But I've finished the back of CPH and looking at this long run of double cables makes me so happy I could dance.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cloudy and Grey

"Cloud goes up, cloud goes down. Cloud goes up, cloud goes down." - Homer Simpson

One completed Marlena & Rosie Charade. At first, I thought it was simply pooling. Then, oh but then...I realized the genius behind she who is named Claudia and the actual cloud-like effect of the color patches. Pink clouds, grey sky? Grey clouds, pink sky? Chicken, egg? Also, Right Foot is very tired and could not be bothered to pose properly.

Here's a better look at that pink cloud:

They've got silver linings.

Things are moving along on all fronts. Luigi's back is finished. Clapotis is done with Hank #1 of Colinette and moving on to Hank #2. Four diagonals have been dropped. Smoke Shawl has been frogged and re-begun on US 4 Inox needles. It is now quite dapper and much, much happier. He feels not quite so transparent, you see.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stash! Can you dig it?

"They say this cat Stash is a bad mother (SHUT YOUR MOUTH!) I'm talkin' 'bout Stash!"

Um...yeah. I have had too much caffeine today. And I watched too many bad action movies on TV this weekend. I have also been shopping way too much lately. My only excuse is that my stash really was pretty pitiful up until a few weeks ago, when my eyes started getting bigger than my fingers. Or something. This will all stop soon, I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die. And if not, I'll just make a big bed out of the stash. I'll fall asleep in a mountain of wool.

One of my favorite yarn stores is now stocking Malabrigo laceweight. I was only going to buy Addi lace needles for the Smoke Shawl. Er...I have no idea how these jumped into the bag.

But aren't they pretty? Like buttah, people. BUTTAH. Look at those baby blues. The color is called "Tuareg," which I don't really get. According to Wikipedia, the Tuareg are a nomadic tribe in the Sahara. "Sahara" and "blue" don't seem to go together to me so much. Whatevs. Maybe the sky above the Sahara is incredibly, piercingly blue. Also, I have never knitted with Malabrigo before. This is soft, soft yarn. I just want to pet it. I think I'll make Ene's Shawl out of these twins.

Pretty yarn and pretty books. Life is grand, ain't it? Jeanette Winterson is one of my favoritest authors in the whole wide world. I heart her. I wish she would write more books, much faster, but I'd hate for anyone to put pressure on me like that, so my wish shall remain just a wish and not a demand. One day, I'll work up the courage to write to her and tell her how much her books mean to me.

But for now, I'll just take photos of the blue-bound ones with the pretty yarn and a pretty necklace. And some blue DVDs. It's funny, but I never noticed how many Disney DVDs are blue. There's an appalling scarcity of blue in my room. Maybe some more blue yarn would help? Just kidding.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's not easy being frogged...

Alas, the Pink Cloud colorway and the Flutter-by pattern were not meant to be united. Something kept bugging me about the two together and I forced myself to take a good, hard look at that crumbling relationship. Pink Cloud likes to pool. Flutter-by's long runs of slip stitch prevent Pink Cloud from pooling and makes Pink Cloud form angry pink and grey blotches throughout knitted fabric. There was a rather painful separation and then the two parted ways. Pink Cloud, however, femme fatale that she is, moved on right away (we're talking less than five minutes, people). Here she is, paired with her new partner, Charade.

And since we all know how two-faced she is, here's her other side:

I don't mind the pooling at all. It's part of her character. Also, it really does make me think of clouds. I'll forgive her for the Flutter-by pairing. We all make mistakes.

I also have a new rule about WIPs. I am only allowed to have one project going at a time in each of the following categories: Mindless knitting, sweater (or article of clothing) knitting, sock knitting and lace knitting. Blankets and afghans do not count since they are necessarily long-term projects. And I can bend the rules, but only slightly if a person's birthday or special occasion looms on the horizon. There's not much going on this week with Clapotis and Luigi but I'm sure they'll make a big comeback next week.

That being said, I bought some hand dyed Prism laceweight wool in Smoke the other day because it DEMANDED that I take him home. I was quite offended until he won me over with his charm and cuddliness. I'm calling this one a "him" because I'd like equal gender representation among my knitted objects. He's very debonair. I cast him on for the "Large Shawl in Leaf and Trellis pattern with Trellis border." That's a mouthful and he thinks it's too cumbersome for such a debonair yarn. I think I'll just call him my Smoke Shawl. I just finished one repeat of the body.

I think I may have to purchase Addi lace needles for this. The bamboo ones I'm working with keep snagging the yarn at the joins and the tips absorb this dye like you would not believe. My fingers are dye-less, but the needles are slowly turning black.

Look at 'im. How could you turn down an offer made by such a handsome, well-dressed gentleman?

Monday, August 6, 2007

FOs: Monkeying and melon-ing around...

Hey, hey, we're the monkeys...
Big Top Monkeys
Pattern: Monkey from
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Fingering in Circus Dancer
Needles: US 1 circ
Modifications: Knitted all stitches; picot cast-on; flap-heel instead of short-row

I am, indeed, a monkey. This Chinese astrology site says, "The spunky Monkey is the original party animal!" Ah, if only this were so. Sigh. I'm afraid I'd rather be watching a movie and knitting.

I love these socks. I love them. They are squishy. They are warm. They are pretty. They are fun. I think I am beginning to have a problem with Claudia. Every time I see the yarn, I can only describe my reaction as somewhat...predatory. I love it more than all other sock yarns. But I suppose since I've only managed to knit two complete pairs of socks, I should hold off on this judgment until I've tried some of the other sock yarns out there.

As I knitted these, I kept thinking of Seurat's The Circus:

I saw this at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris four years ago and I stood with my nose nearly pressed up against it, marveling at the dots he used to create blends of colors. For New Yorkers, his "Sideshow" is more easily accessible:

It's in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I'm going to have to duck in there pretty soon to refresh my memory. My monkeys like it quite a lot.

I really had so much fun knitting these and one of the best parts was the connection with Water for Elephants, which I finished and highly recommend. There's a bit of everything in there. Murder, mayhem, sex and romance. It makes me wish for the days when things like circuses were still charmingly bohemian and going to see them was such novel entertainment.

Next, we have the Melon Shawl. I can't think up a wittier name that does not also denigrate part of women's anatomy. I believe I shall refrain.

Melon Shawl
Pattern: Melon Shawl from Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Louet Sales Kidlin Pixie in Grasshopper
Needles: US7 for melon pattern; US6 for border

As I neared the end of this shawl, tragedy struck. I ran out of yarn with only eight border repeats left to go. I sadly plunked down more cash in order to complete Melon and ruefully wished I had ended the body pattern a few repeats earlier. Greedy, yarn-guzzling Melon is happy, however, and here she is, modeling herself on the sunny deck of my parents' house.

A close-up of the border:

A pool of crisp green:

Lounging in the sun:

I swear, if Melon were a cat, she would have been positively purring with pleasure. I can't wait to start showing her off around town, if only this nasty muggy spell would go away.

And since I finished up the Monkeys, I started another pair of socks also inspired by the elephant book. They're the Flutter-By socks by Librarygirl. The charcoal and pink yarn started me thinking of Rosie, the elephant in the book, and Marlena, the pink sequin-covered star of the circus.

I'm calling them my Marlena & Rosie socks. And the "Flutter-bys" make me think of elephant ears. Maybe I'm just elephant crazy.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I love yarn sales!

The Melon shawl is done, but needs some blocking and modeling. I'm pretty sure I can accomplish this tomorrow when I visit the 'rents for the weekend in NJ. But in the meantime, I scored some yarny goodness this week without even thinking about it.

The other day, I walked into String, on the Upper East Side. I had errands to run and thought I'd check out the store while I was in the neighborhood. I'm sooooo glad I did. They had a bunch of stuff on sale, but I've set aside a stockpile of wool for sweater knitting and so I skipped over those. But Colinette Lasso was on sale for 75% off. That's right, not a typo. 75. I bought four hanks of it for the price of one. The pattern in mind? Clapotis!

Clapotis and I have some history. It was the first full-scale project I finished when I returned to knitting after a lengthy hiatus. I knit Clapotis I with Rowan Tapestry, finished last September and I only wore it a few times before surrendering it to my mom, who liked it better than the Swallowtail Shawl I knit for her. She hasn't returned the Swallowtail, though. And whenever I knit something that I tell her is not for her, she says I never knit her anything. Hmmm.

The Colinette Lasso is interesting. It's remarkably soft for something that's listed as 100% polyamide...which is essentially nylon. The yarn is cushy and feels a bit like velvet. I started on bamboo needles, but had to switch over to Addis because the yarn was sticking too much to the wood. I'm not sure if I'm in love with the color, but I like it well enough and might like it even more once the stitches start droppin'. If not, I'll finish it up for a very lucky friend for Christmas.

I also stopped by Purl Soho. I swear, I did not mean to purchase more yarn. I only meant to get one hank of the Kidlin in order to complete the Melon. However, the MerLin Tristan was on sale for 40% off. I've had my eye on the Euroflax for months because I want to knit the Linen Kilt from Knit 2 Together. But Tristan is the same weight but in a 50% wool/50% linen blend. I think I'll prefer that to 100% linen. And of course, they had four hanks of the gorgeously docile Sandalwood colorway.

And finally, this does not count as a "purchase." I had to return some surplus yarn from the Daisy cardi and got some sock yarn (Claudia's Hand Painted in Pink Cloud) in exchange. After I wound it up, though, I noticed something. Take a good look:

Same yarn, same dye lot, same store...different size yarn cakes? I'm really hoping that maybe this has to do with the sproingy nature of the yarn and not getting gypped by the manufacturer. I did notice that one hank seemed squishier than the other when I purchased them. I'll knit the first sock out of the smaller cake. If that covers the toe, I know I'll be safe. I'm not usually a pink person (especially such a delicate pastel pink) but I think the charcoal cuts through it just enough to give it an edgier, less dainty demeanor.